Bailey Vrazel’s quick feet, .417 batting average and visible poise as at the plate are a few reasons why Bailey Vrazel is the leadoff hitter for the first-place TWU Pioneers.
On Friday at Pioneer Field, TWU was trying to bounce back from its first series loss of the season.
Vrazel could have dropped her head after her first-inning strikeout. Instead, she legged out two infield hits for RBIs, went 3-for-5 and set the tone for the Pioneers’ 6-1 victory over the third-place Angelo State Rambelles.
“Sometimes they don’t fall in your favor,” Vrazel said of two extra-inning losses at Midwestern State. “Those were tough ones to lose, but the way we never gave up no matter if we lost or not was good. You just have to know how to come back from it, and that’s what we did.”
Right behind Vrazel in the batting order was Amanda Ruiz, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
In fact, it was complete effort from the entire lineup, as Haley Colwell and Katie Hines were the only starters to not score or get a hit, and they both managed to reach base.
“When you’re building your team, you are trying to get a nice, balanced team with speed and power because you never know what the game is going to dictate,” TWU coach Richie Bruister said. “When you’ve got all of the above, then you’re able to win games in different ways.”
Angelo State entered the game with a some bragging rights, having beaten TWU last season in the second round of the NCAA South Central regional tournament after claiming the regular-season Lone Star Conference championship.
In their first clash since, the Pioneers sent Angelo State starting pitcher Sandra Serna, whom they are likely to see again in today’s 1 p.m. doubleheader, to her fourth loss of the season against 16 wins.
“We’ve gotten everybody’s best all year long, so there was no question what was going to happen [Friday],” Bruister said. “We deserved to win all three games [last weekend]. If I had another game left in our schedule, I would have scheduled one in the middle of the week to get that taste out of our mouth, because we didn’t like it.”
Serna gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, while Brandie Lander (15-4) earned the win for TWU, taking over for Hines in the fourth inning.
After stranding two runners on base in the first, TWU broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the second. Colwell and Lizzy Kelly each reached on singles to start the inning. Vrazel’s infield hit put the Pioneers on the board at 1-0, and pinch runner Megan Leff scored on a wild pitch to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
The Pioneers looked as if they would add a run in the third, but Kelly’s RBI triple to right field was nullified by a runner-left-early call that returned Kelly to the plate and erased Colwell’s run.
The Rambelles’ Lauren Smith led off the fourth with a triple off Colwell’s glove in right field to set up cleanup hitter Rachel Moore, who ripped an RBI single past Leff’s outstretched glove at second to make the score 2-1. Still with no outs in the inning, Bruister pulled Hines from the game.
Lander stepped into the circle and retired the next three batters to carry the Pioneers out of the inning having yielded just the one run.
TWU padded its lead in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double from Kendra Sancet, her 12th of the year, to restore the Pioneers’ two-run lead at 3-1.
Ruiz used her speed to extend a hit to center field into an RBI double in the fifth inning, giving the Pioneers a 4-1 advantage.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, TWU managed two more runs. Vrazel delivered her second infield RBI single of the game to make it 5-1, and Ruiz followed with one of her own.
“We’ll take whatever we can,” Vrazel said. “A win is a win. It doesn’t matter if we are going for the long ball or for the short ball. It worked for us, and we’ll take what we can get.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873.
TWU 6, ANGELO STATE 1
WP — Brandie Lander (15-4). LP — Sandra Serna (16-4). 2B — T: Jordan Readicker, Kendra Sancet, Amanda Ruiz. 3B — A: Lauren Smith.